Guide to Natural Disasters in North Carolina

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People often assume that they’ll have plenty of advanced warning if a natural disaster is going to strike. Based on that assumption, few people plan ahead for the worst.

If you live in North Carolina, you need to prepare your family and your home for a truly frightening array of natural disasters. Because if you prepare, there’s nothing to be frightened of. And if you do end up taking on damage, there’s always All Dry USA to help clean up after the mess.

Natural Disasters In North Carolina

What Natural Disasters Occur in North Carolina?

North Carolina is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S., with a stunning seashore, rows of lush mountains, and plenty of cities for the hustle and bustle type. Unfortunately, all that goodness comes with its own drawbacks in the form of a unique vulnerability to violent acts of nature.

From drought, wildfires, and landslides, to winter storms, hurricanes, and floods, there’s a lot to keep your eyes peeled for. The state of North Carolina offers some exhaustive resources to help residents stay in the know, but in this guide, we’re going to give a brief overview of what you can do to prepare.


Drought isn’t only caused by extreme heat, so don’t think you’re in the clear if it’s been balmy. Dry conditions can lead to wildfires, crop failure, and worse.


  • Keep clean water stocked in abundance
  • Plant a drought-resistant garden
  • Curb your water use
  • Map out local water centers


  • Watch for heat stress/stroke
  • Pitch in at the local garden
  • Save your rainwater and runoff


The west coast is more prone to earthquakes than the east coast. At least, that’s true of bad ones. Earthquakes still do strike North Carolina from time to time, and here’s how you should respond.


  • Make sure all your door frames are secure
  • Earthquake-proof your basement
  • Remove heavy objects from high shelves
  • Have an inspector check your foundations


  • Get under a bed or in a doorframe – anywhere you can’t be struck by falling objects.
  • Don’t go outside until it’s over
  • If you’re in your car, drive to where no trees can topple over.


North Carolina is known for its beautiful mountains, but in fact, just as many residents live at sea level as live above it. For those folks, flash flood preparedness is essential.


  • Buy a self-inflating boat
  • Reinforce your roof
  • Keep a stow of clean water


  • Keep your eye on National Weather Service alerts
  • Keep your pets uncaged in case water hits
  • If a flood warning is issued, seek higher ground
  • Do not attempt to cross flood waters


Science shows us that hurricanes are only getting more dangerous due to climate change. The American Eastern seaboard is particularly vulnerable to savage hurricanes and the deadly debris their gale-force winds kick up.


  • Install storm shutters
  • Cover windows with plywood otherwise
  • Secure your garage door
  • Create an emergency evacuation plan


  • Stay in communication with shelters
  • Track the trajectory of the hurricane
  • Keep drinking water in your bathtub
  • Listen to evacuation orders— do not try and brave it


Landslides can occur anywhere there are hills; they don’t just happen in the mountains. Rainfall and heat alike can contribute to a loosening in sediment, which means landslides are more likely, but you can protect yourself.


  • Learn about local risk areas
  • Practice the escape routes
  • Plot alternate escape routes if landslides obstruct


  • Keep in touch with developing updates
  • Flee to higher ground
  • Make sure your basement is airtight

Thunderstorms & Lightning

North Carolina Lightning

Though not necessarily as dangerous as hurricanes, regular thunder and lightning storms are nothing to joke about. Temperatures can plummet, hail can beat up your house, and those thunder cracks will scare your pets.


  • Invest in a backup generator
  • Keep portable chargers around in case of power cuts
  • Unplug all your not-in-use devices


  • Stay in a secure interior room
  • Never go outside while lightning is striking
  • If you live on a hill, consider sheltering elsewhere


North Carolina may not be in tornado alley, but you still need to prepare in case a tornado touches down in your area, because it does happen. Keep in mind that peak tornado season in N.C. is April through May.


  • Find a tornado shelter you can run to if you don’t have one
  • Stock your shelter with food, clean water, and supplies
  • Learn to recognize the signs of tornado formation (funnel clouds, yellow skies, etc.)


  • Keep all your tornado-safe rooms clear
  • Keep a kit of snacks and supplies on you
  • Stay as low to the ground as possible


Traditionally, tsunamis only occur in the Pacific Ocean, where the waters are warmer, and the wind patterns are different. Now, there is a threat of tsunamis washing up on the east coast, and there are several things you can do to be prepared.


  • Make sure your car always has a full tank of gas
  • Learn about tsunami season and be prepared to make sudden plan changes
  • Keep clean water and food in your car


  • Visit a local storm center if necessary
  • Do not go outside; airborne debris is highly dangerous
  • Don’t step directly onto water-slick roads in case power lines have electrified them

Extreme Heat / Wildfires

Extreme heat is a natural emergency all on its own, but it can also cause wildfires, which cause millions of dollars in property damage every year. Safeguard against them in these ways.


  • Plant a desert garden and keep gutters clear
  • Keep your soil moist
  • Purchase a heat-resistant blanket
  • Create an emergency evacuation plan


  • Keep your fire extinguisher with you
  • If your home gets engulfed, do not go back in
  • Check up on live wildfire maps
  • Visit a local cooling center if needed

Winter Storms

Winter storms require vastly different preparation than thunderstorms and hurricanes. North Carolina can get extremely cold, and snow, sleet, and hail are common. All this requires specific actions before and during winter storms.


  • Winterize your home and vehicle
  • Avoid commuting when road conditions are too treacherous
  • Keep warming tools in your car
  • Purchase a hot water heater


  • Don’t overuse the heater at home
  • Wrap yourself in layers of down to keep your internal temperature up
  • Don’t let your animals go outside

How To Prepare for Natural Disasters in North Carolina

Each natural disaster poses its own unique dangers, but there are certain precautions you can take that are helpful in the case of any natural disaster. The most important thing to do is start preparing before you have any indication a disaster will strike. Because the truth is, the vast majority of time, people don’t have advanced warning, and are very glad if they were ready ahead of time.

Make a Disaster Plan

A disaster plan includes a plotting of escape routes by car and by foot, a list of supplies you’ll want on hand, figures that illustrate how long your supplies will last, the phone numbers of friends, loved ones, and emergency centers, and a list of important documents you’ll want to grab if you have time.

Build an Emergency Supplies Kit

If you’re worried about what to put in your kit, this official guide to kit building from the Department of Homeland Security is a great start. The essential items include:

  • At least one gallon of water per person
  • Several days’ supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Hand crank radio
  • First aid kit
  • Wrench, pliers, and can opener
  • Clean water pills

Backup Important Digital Information

You never know when a wave will come crashing through the window and flood your computer, or a lightning storm will cut off your power in the middle of important work.

Back up all your important information, documents, photos, and the like both digitally, via the cloud, and on a hard disk.

Charge Your Portable Batteries

Power outages are common during natural disasters. If you keep portable batteries on hand, you’ll at least have cell power to last a few hours, if not days.

Save Drinking Water

Groundwater can get polluted quickly during hurricanes and other storms. Pipes can also burst, cutting off water access completely. Fill your bathtub with clean drinking water, or even fill plastic bags with filtered water for later use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Most Common Natural Disaster in North Carolina?

The most common type of natural disaster that occurs in North Carolina is hurricanes, closely followed by seasonal storms and winter storms. While you shouldn’t slack in your preparations for these disasters, be extra sure you’ve storm-proofed your home, rounded up the necessary rations, and have a local shelter in mind.

Can I Be Notified of Natural Disasters in North Carolina?

Absolutely. Check with your state and local governments, and they can most likely put you on a notification list for forecasted occurrences like hurricanes and droughts. For other types, like flash floods and wildfires, the warning may be more sudden, within hours or even minutes.

Suffering From Natural Disaster Damage in North Carolina? ADU Can Help

All Dry USA performs all sorts of disaster cleanup jobs in the interior of properties. From mold removal to fire and water damage restoration, we’ve got you covered. Call today to see what ADU can do for you.


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